India responds to Pak PM's speech at UNGA, says 'Imran Khan's threat of unleashing nuclear devastation qualifies as brinkmanship'. India mocked Imran Khan's angry presentation before the General Assembly on Friday as “hate speech” coming from a “medieval mindset” from a country. The first secretary in India’s foreign ministry sneeringly asked the Pakistan PM whether he would deny to the city of New York that he was an open defender of Osama bin Laden

by Chidanand Rajghatta

NEW YORK: Fielding a junior diplomat in its right of reply to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s address to the United Nations, India mocked his angry presentation before the General Assembly on Friday as “hate speech” coming from a “medieval mindset” from a country that that has “monopolised the entire value chain of the industry of terrorism”.

The first secretary in India’s foreign ministry, Vidisha Maitra conveyed New Delhi’s full fury on Saturday, virtually calling Pakistan a terrorist state using evidence built up by the global community, after Khan had lit into India with a theatrical presentation centering on the Kashmir issue, including overwrought scenarios of massacres leading to nuclear war.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan’s threat of unleashing nuclear devastation qualifies as brinkmanship, not statesmanship. Even coming from the leader of a country that has monopolised the entire value chain of the industry of terrorism, Khan’s justification of terrorism was brazen and incendiary,” Maitra told the General Assembly, listing out the steps taken by the international community to put Pakistan in the dock for its coddling of terror groups and terrorism.

Asserting that the world will hold Imran Khan to his promise of inviting UN observers to verify that there are no militant organisations in Pakistan, Maitra posed the following questions that Pakistan can respond to as a precursor to the proposed verification: Can Pakistan confirm the fact that it is home to 130 UN-designated terrorists and 25 terrorist entities listed by the UN as of today? Will Pakistan acknowledge that it is the only government in the world that provides pension to an individual listed in the al-Qaida and Da’esh sanctions list? Can Pakistan explain why here in New York, its premier bank — the Habib Bank — had to shut shop after it was fined millions of dollars over terror financing? Will Pakistan deny that the Financial Action Task Force has put the country on notice for its violation of 20 of the 27 key parameters?

While affirmative answer to each of the questions is on record, Maitra sneeringly asked the Pakistan PM, dubbed “Taliban Khan” in his own country, whether he would deny to the city of New York that he was an open defender of Osama bin Laden.

The al-Qaida terrorist, who was hunted down by US Navy Seals in a Pakistani military garrison town, escaped to that country after the 9/11 attack, which he planned with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was also captured in Pakistan and renditioned to the US. Khan mendaciously claimed that Pakistan had nothing to do with 9/11, even though, besides Bin Laden and Sheikh Mohammed, many of the 19 hijackers routinely transited through Pakistan and the Taliban regime which hosted al-Qaida was Pakistan’s proxy regime. Khan himself confirmed in New York that the Pakistan military trained al-Qaida before 9/11 and continued to maintain contact with it even after.

Speaking a couple of hours before Khan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi steered clear of mentioning Pakistan in making a broader case about the dangers of terrorism in what Indian officials was an appropriate statesman-like tone for a forum discussing global issues in a responsible manner. But Khan, after a meandering half an hour lashing out at the world for various ills afflicting Pakistan, settled on a vicious attack on India replete with what Indian officials said was selective citing of history and pop sociology while glossing over Pakistan’s fault lines.

“What we heard today from Imran Khan was a callous portrayal of the world in binary terms. Us vs them, rich vs poor, north vs south, developed vs developing, Muslims vs others. A script that fosters divisiveness at the United Nations. Attempts to sharpen differences and stir up hatred are simply put ‘hate speech’,” Maitra said, noting that “Rarely has the General Assembly witnessed such misuse, rather abuse, of an opportunity to reflect.”

Words matter in diplomacy. Invocation of phrases such as “pogrom”, “bloodbath”, “racial superiority”, “pick up the gun” and “fight to the end” reflect a medieval mindset and not a 21st century vision, she said, describing Khan’s speech as bordering on crudeness.

In a withering response to Pakistan’s overwrought charges that there will be pogroms and genocide against Muslims in India by a Nazi-inspired RSS following New Delhi’s decision to remove the special status of Jammu & Kashmir, the Indian representative referred to him by his full name, Imran Khan Niazi, ridiculed his “sketchy understanding of history”, and reminded him of the “gruesome genocide perpetrated by Pakistan against its own people in 1971, and the role played by Lieutenant General AAK Niazi — a sordid fact that the honourable prime minister of Bangladesh reminded this assembly about earlier this afternoon.”

The Pakistani military and its militias killed more than a million Bengali-speaking Muslims in what was then East Pakistan (which became Bangladesh) in an officially recognised genocide for which Islamabad has escaped responsibility (other than losing half the country). The junior Indian diplomat appeared to be deliberately reminding Khan about his last name, which is the same as the general who surrendered to India with 93,000 Pakistani troops.

“Having mainstreamed terrorism and hate speech, Pakistan is trying to play its wild card as the newfound champion of human rights. This is a country that has shrunk the size of its minority community from 23% in 1947 to 3% today, and has subjected Christians, Sikhs, Ahmadiyas, Hindus, Shias, Pashtuns, Sindhis and Balochis to draconian blasphemy laws, systemic persecution, blatant abuse and forced conversions,” the Indian representative told the General Assembly.

Pakistan will get an opportunity to respond to India’s reply, followed by another round of exchanges, in what is expected to a slippery slope of tit-for-tat diplomatic skirmishes initiated by Islamabad. Already social media has been inflamed by crude exchanges between keyboard warriors.

Although Pakistan put New Delhi on the defensive at the UN, Indian officials are confident their narrative would eventually prevail as the unrest, which they say is restricted to a few districts in the Kashmir Valley, subsides. The officials said Imran Khan’s presentation and invoking of nightmare scenarios, including genocide and nuclear holocaust, bordered on the desperate, as if he was willing it to happen, since any return to normalcy would destroy Pakistan’s fevered narrative.

“Pakistan’s virulent reaction to the removal of an outdated and temporary provision that was hindering development and integration of the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir stems from the fact that those who strive on conflict never welcome the ray of peace. While Pakistan has ventured to upstream terrorism and downstream hate speech there, India has gone ahead with mainstreaming development in Jammu & Kashmir,” Maitra told the UN.

“The mainstreaming of Jammu & Kashmir as well as Ladakh in India’s thriving and vibrant democracy, with a millennia-old heritage of diversity, pluralism, and tolerance, is well and truly under way — irreversibly so. The citizens of India do not need anyone else to speak on their behalf, least of all those who have built an industry of terrorism from the ideology of hate,” she concluded.